Improving poor communication among family and friends
Good communication is the lifeblood of any healthy relationship—especially with family and friends. While it’s often described as a “soft skill,” effective communication is one of the most important ways to build trust and strengthen bonds with those you know.
Unfortunately, not everyone successfully communicates all the time, and even the closest relationships can experience communication challenges that lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings and other strains. That’s especially true of some of the stories we shared in our latest episode of Am I The Bleep?!, which you can listen to here:
Give that episode a listen now (we don’t think you’ll be disappointed!). Once you’re done, take a look at the following practical strategies to reduce poor communication among those that matter most to you.
Ways to start improving communication
Write out what you’d like to say
When it comes to communicating clearly, often, it’s better to start by putting your thoughts and feelings into writing. Writing down how you feel about a situation is a great way to clarify what you actually want. Without it, you’ll effectively be going into a conversation blind, making it easy to get sidetracked by emotional outbursts and tangents.
The best way to write down what you’d like to communicate is through journaling. Journaling is a helpful method of putting down all your thoughts—the good, the bad and the ugly—and then choosing which ones you’d actually like to verbalize, versus those you’d rather not.
Assume positive intent, but avoid empathy
“Avoid empathy” might seem like a bad way to improve communication. But the truth is, empathy doesn’t actually help people communicate better. That’s because when we empathize with others, we literally feel what they feel. So, if the other person is emotionally charged during a conversation, we’re going to be charged during that conversation, too—leading to poor communication outcomes.
Rather than developing empathy, try “assuming positive intent” in others. Assuming positive intent means understanding that your conversational partner is trying to do what’s right too, and that they want your conversation to be productive. By being sympathetic and understanding, but not empathetic, you can avoid getting bogged down in emotions during important communications while still having respect and care for the person you’re communicating with.
Come to a consensus, but don’t set boundaries
What’s the goal of communication? To set boundaries?
Actually, it’s about coming to a consensus about things. That doesn’t mean you need to agree on everything, but it does mean you need to agree on the consequences of actions that follow.
For instance, if you need to communicate to your employee that you’ve noticed they’re not showing up to work on time, your goal during that conversation should be to let them know that if they continue to be late, they won’t be employed by you anymore.
Similarly, if your partner is a smoker—and you’re not a fan of that—you can’t force them to change, but you can communicate the consequences of their habit. You can tell your partner that when they smoke, you won’t be present, so if they’d like to spend more time with you, it won’t be while they’re smoking.
Why shouldn’t you set boundaries, you ask?
Boundaries aren’t helpful because they require a lot of energy to maintain. That, and if someone crosses your boundaries, it takes even more energy to reprimand them for it. Instead of boundaries, coming to a consensus about consequences is a better way to clearly communicate what will happen if your personal needs aren’t met.
Stop poor communication with better conversational tactics
Effective communication is essential for maintaining healthy relationships. And while you’re never going to nip every argument in the bud, there are certainly ways to smoothen communication challenges with friends and family.
By journaling, assuming positive intent and coming to agreements rather than boundaries, it’s possible to improve the way you communicate with those that matter most to you (something we’d love to tell the folks we read about this week in our Am I The Bleep?! podcast…).
Curious to communicate better? Book an intake call with our team and let’s talk!